Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How To Grow Dianthus

Dianthus are also called “pinks” and “ Sweet William.” They belong to a family of plants that include carnations.  Typically, they have a spicy fragrance. Dianthus can be grown as a hardy annual, biennial or perennial, depending on 
location.  They are great used in the landscape, in borders and even in 

Dianthus are very easy to grow and quite versatile.  The plants are compact and grow from 6 to 18 inches tall. There are many Dianthus varieties, and the flowers usually bloom in pinks, reds, salmons and white and red.  
Planting Dianthus
Plant Dianthus in full sun or partial shade (at least 6 hours of sunlight) in fertile, well-drained soil.  Do not plant outside until after the danger of frost has passed (about May 15th in our area).  Plant them about 12-18 inches apart and, for best results, do not mulch.

Water them only at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry and prevent mildew spotting.

Caring for Dianthus
Allow Dianthus to try slightly between waterings and apply fertilizer every six to eight weeks. 

Some varieties of dianthus are self-sowing.  Be sure to deadhead to eliminate the growth of volunteer plants.  This will also promote a bushy, long blooming plant.

Dianthus can be propagated by division, cuttings or layering. Dianthus seed is usually available at any garden center and may be started indoors.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to Grow Stock Plants

Stock flowers are a great plant to have in inventory.  They are attractive, colorful and sweet smelling! Stock flowers are native to Europe and Asia Minor.  They produce lots of flowers on tall stems, but when the weather gets hotter, their production slows down.

Stock is an easy to grow annual. The plants grow up to 21/2 feet tall. The flowers are great for cutting and make a statement in a garden setting.  Use taller varieties as a tall garden border; try the smaller varieties as a beautiful edger or in containers.  Stock flowers come in crimson, lavender, pink, purple, red, white and yellow.

Growing Stock
Stock plants are grown from seeds. They can be directly seeded into the garden, or started indoors.
Cover seeds lightly with potting soil.  Keep the soil moist for best results.

Transplant Stock into the garden after the last frost date for your area. 

Plant Stock in full sun or light shade in rich, well-drained soil.  Fertilize once a month with a general purpose garden fertilizer. 

Stock plants have few pests.  They prefer soil that is slightly moist.  Water them during dry weather and keep them weeded.  They prefer cooler weather and will not flower in very warm temperatures.
Stock will survive a light frost. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Growing Pansies

Pansies are hardy, or cold-tolerant annuals.  They can survive cold snaps, even snow, with little damage except to the open blossoms.  They grow quickly in the cool weather of spring and will be in their full glory when other warm-season annuals are still in the green plant stage.  They can be planted in the fall and will winter over for excellent spring color.  Here are a few tips on gardening practices that will keep your pansies at their peak throughout the spring and fall seasons.

LIGHT Pansies prefer a sunny spot.  Shade will make them stretch and cuts down on the number of flowers produced.  They will, however, tolerate very light shade, and a couple of hours of shade in the hot afternoon is to their liking.

WATERING:  Plant pansies in moist, not wet, fertile soil.  If pansies dry out or are nutrient starved, their vigor declines very quickly.  Baskets and clay containers will probably need watering every day.

FEEDING:  Feed pansies with either  1) a granular flower food,  2) a water-soluble food like Peters or Miracle-Gro, or  3) a slow release pellet like Osmocote.  Follow instructions on fertilizer.

MAINTENANCE:  Remove the spent flower heads before they form seeds.  Energy that could be going into the production of new flowers is wasted on formation of seeds if the flowers aren’t picked off regularly.  Remove the entire flower stalk, not just the flower end.  Pinching is fine, or use scissors.

Many gardeners ask if pansies will bloom all summer.  The answer depends on  several factors - the amount of care they receive, the heat tolerance of the variety planted and summer rainfall and temperatures.  Pansies should not be thought of as a replacement for main-stream annuals like marigolds and petunias, but as a preview to them.  Many gardeners prefer to remove their pansies once the hot weather hits and replace them with heat-loving annuals.  Others will cut their pansies back in mid-July and allow them to regrow for fall blooms.  Still others grow their pansies in containers on their porches and patios so that they can have lots of color while waiting of the main-stream flowers to grow.

We  grow only the most heat-tolerant, compact varieties on the market today, and are constantly searching for new varieties to please our gardening customers.  With proper watering and fertilizing, and removal of seed heads, pansies can provide  pleasure throughout the spring and fall seasons.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Growing Peas

It’s early spring, you’re putting in a garden, and you’ve already decided you’ll be growing peas. To help you achieve a successful harvest, here are a few recommendations and tips.

Types of Peas to Try
Vine length varies from one variety to another, and long-vined peas need a taller trellis than compact varieties. Both compact and long-vined varieties are available in the following four types, which vary in pod and seed characteristics. 

Snap peas are eaten whole, and both the crunchy pod and the peas inside taste sweet. Snap peas yield more food per square foot than the other types.

Snow peas produce tender, flat pods that are eaten whole. Snow peas also produce the most tender vine tips for adding to salads or stir-fries.

Shell peas are often called English peas, because many fine varieties were developed in Great Britain in the 18th century. Sweet green peas are shelled from tough, inedible pods.

Soup peas produce hard, starch-filled seeds for drying inside inedible pods. Seed size and color vary with variety.

When to Plant Peas
Sow in spring, about one month before your last frost date. Where summers are cool, additional sowings can be made three weeks apart. Peas produce poorly in hot weather, so an early start is always a wise strategy. In climates with mild winters, a second crop can be sown in late summer for harvesting in late fall.

How to Plant Peas
All peas benefit from a trellis or other support. Install a 6-foot-tall trellis before planting long-vined varieties. Compact varieties can be staked with woody branches or unemployed tomato cages after they sprout, or you can interplant short-vined peas with oats, which serve as a living support.

Prepare a wide planting bed by loosening the soil to at least 10 inches deep while mixing in compost. Do not use fertilizer unless your soil is very poor or low in organic matter. Plant seeds in a double row, with a row of seeds on each side of the trellis. Poke seeds into the prepared site 2 inches apart and 1 inch deep. Thinning is not necessary.

Harvesting and Storing Peas
To avoid mangling the vines, use two hands to harvest peas. When green peas are ripe, harvest them daily, preferably in the morning. Pick snow peas when the pods reach full size and the peas inside are just beginning to swell. For best flavor and yields, allow snap peas to change from flat to plump before picking them. Gather sweet green shell peas when the pods begin to show a waxy sheen, but before their color fades. Immediately refrigerate picked peas to stop the conversion of sugar to starches and maintain the peas’ crisp texture. Promptly blanch and freeze your extra peas.

Pest and Disease Prevention Tips for Pea Plants
Powdery mildew causes white patches to form on leaves and pods, but it is easily prevented by growing resistant varieties. So-called “afila” types, which produce many tendrils but only a few leaves, are naturally resistant to powdery mildew.  

Rotate peas with non-legumes to avoid the buildup of soil-dwelling fungi that can cause roots to rot.

Pea enation mosaic virus causes distorted new growth, and it is most common in the Northwest and Northeast. Several resistant varieties are available.
More information can be found at